With the desire to take organics recovery to the next level, Zero Waste Energy Development Company (ZWEDC) was determined to process mixed organic waste, extract the energy from the material and produce a high quality compost product. Having identified the appropriate technology that would meet these objectives, ZWEDC needed a site to develop the project and a trusted partner to secure a long-term feedstock agreement. ZWEDC's sister company Zanker Recycling owned and had been successfully operating two innovative resource recovery facilities in the northern portion of the City of San Jose, ZWEDC began aggressively searching for a site for their new facility. The City of San Jose owned a parcel of surplus land conveniently located adjacent to the Zanker sites. Recognizing their synergies, ZWEDC initiated discussions with the City of San Jose to lease 40 acres of the parcel to develop the facility, commonly known as the former Nine Par Landfill. Unbeknownst to both parties, the landfill was never formally closed, so ZWEDC agreed to bring closure to the landfill and bring the site to a leasable condition; more than 50 approvals, authorizations and permits were secured covering, the site, development, public infrastructure improvements and construction and operation of the facility. In exchange for this work, ZWEDC would receive lease payment credits while the City of San Jose would benefit from the public infrastructure development and material processing fees in future project phases.
The City of San Jose is the tenth largest city in the United States with a population of over 1 million residents and 8,000 businesses; approximately 1,835,000 tons of solid waste is generated annually, with the commercial sector of the city generating about 300,000 tons of that material. Despite the city's commitment to its "Green Vision" and an [archaic/outdated] commercial waste collection system resulted in a diversion rate from the commercial solid waste stream of roughly 20% for nearly a decade - the city knew they had to find a better way. Recognizing that recovery organic portion of the commercial waste stream was a critical component of their diversion and renewable energy goals, the City of San Jose released a RFP for Organics Processing Services in early 2010, to complement their redesign of the commercial waste collection system. Under the new system, 100% of the waste collected from the commercial sector would be processed, with the organic fraction to be processed into compost. After the competitive process, the award for Organics Processing ZWEDC was awarded the 15-year exclusive processing agreement. On July 1, 2012, ZWEDC began receiving the organics materials and in less than a year, the new comprehensive and integrated commercial waste collection and processing system has tripled the diversion rate of the former system.